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Morecambe’s makeover: A TV drama – and major investment – is giving the Lancashire resort a lift

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Once dubbed ‘The Naples of the North’, Morecambe was originally developed during the late 19th century to welcome millworkers from towns and cities in West Yorkshire and beyond.

‘Britain’s most modern and progressive resort’, was how a 1930s tourism poster described it. 

‘Morecambe has everything under the sun,’ another claimed. But as package holidays abroad started guaranteeing suntans and cheap booze, Morecambe rapidly went into decline and, by the 1970s, the Lancashire town swapped its exotic nickname for ‘The Costa Geriatrica’.

Seaside revival: Morecambe beach. The average asking price of a home in the West Yorkshire town is £151,607, while the national average is £256,000

Seaside revival: Morecambe beach. The average asking price of a home in the West Yorkshire town is £151,607, while the national average is £256,000

Businesses collapsed, visitor numbers dropped and it became the butt of jokes on national television. 

In 1999, Morecambe had the highest number of antidepressants prescribed per head of population, earning the unenviable title of ‘the most depressed place in Britain’.

But, thanks to the ITV drama, The Bay, there’s renewed interest in this corner of the North. 

The series, which follows Detective Sergeant Lisa Armstrong (played by Morven Christie) as she investigates serious crimes in Morecambe Bay, has caused searches for homes to buy in the area to surge by 71per cent in the space of just a week, according to Rightmove.

The property website reported a bigger seven-day increase in searches for the town than anywhere else in Britain during the week the show returned for its second series in January. Searches for homes to rent in Morecambe were also up 22 per cent over the same period.

Morven Christie as DS Lisa Armstrong in ITV drama The Bay

Morven Christie as DS Lisa Armstrong in ITV drama The Bay

What’s more, for those looking to make the move, there are bargains to be had. The average asking price of a home is £151,607 (the national average is £256,000), while renting typically costs £612 per month. 

On the other end of the spectrum, homes in Salcombe, Devon, for example, Britain’s most expensive coastal town, go for an average £787,628.

Laura Fort, director of iBay Homes, ibayhomes.com, based in Morecambe, said: ‘There’s been a huge amount of interest recently, the market’s boomed as people are realising what Morecambe has to offer.

‘There are great schools, it’s affordable, laid-back and you’re never more than five minutes away from the sea. There are big businesses here, we’ve got two power stations, two universities and a hospital.’

Prices have increased by about 10 per cent in the past year but it’s still possible to find a three-bed semi-detached in a sought-after area for £180,000. 

But it’s not just the glorious scenery displayed in the TV show that’s resulted in renewed interest. The town is now home to a newly revamped stone jetty and promenade with a statue of comedian Eric Morecambe, the resort’s most famous son. 

Many of the grand Victorian guesthouses in the West End area which had been taken over by landlords are now being turned into apartments and family homes.

Placefirst, the Manchester-based build-to-rent developer, is transforming some of the empty homes as part of a £10 million regeneration project. 

Properties range from five-bedroom houses to one-bedroom apartments with rents from £540 to £884 per month with no third-party letting agent fees (placefirst.co.uk).

‘The West End used to be the golden place to be but then it became very deprived,’ says Matthew Kitchen, property expert at Lancastrian Estates.

‘But it’s had a huge amount of investment over the past ten years or so, and there are some absolute bargains in the area. The terrace houses there are beautiful. They’re full of original features and close to shops and new restaurants.’

Locals are also excited about the construction of the £85 million Eden Project North on Morecambe’s prom, a collection of ‘biomes’ which will house a lido, a 4,000-capacity performance space, and gardens. 

It is set to open in 2023. ‘Morecambe is only half an hour from The Lakes, and its main train line takes you to Euston in two-and-a-half hours’, added Kitchen.

The town seems determined to shake off its reputation of being another seaside resort casualty. And it seems to be working.

On the market… and on the water 

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Southwold beach hut which is 10ft wide with no running water or electricity up for sale for £250,000

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A beach hut in an upmarket seaside town which is famed for its celebrity visitors has gone on the market for a record £250,000.

The price is believed to be the highest ever to be asked in the UK for a hut which people are not allowed to sleep in – and is double the cost of a three bedroom terraced house just 10 miles away.

The hut, numbered 149 and called ‘Here’s Hoping’, measures 10ft 6ins wide and is in a prime position on the promenade in the Edwardian town of Southwold, Suffolk.

The resort has always been a popular retreat for well-heeled Londoners and celebrities including Chris Evans, Michael Palin, Stephen Fry, Rowan Atkinson and Richard Curtis.

Beach huts on the south coast can be more expensive with selling prices for some in Dorset exceeding £500,000.

But the huts in Southwold, which have no electricity or running water, are subject to strict local by-laws which ban anyone from sleeping overnight.

A beach hut called 'Here's Hoping', pictured, which sits on the promenade of the upmarket seaside town Southwold in Suffolk, Doset, famed for its celebrity visitors, has gone on the market for a record £250,000

A beach hut called ‘Here’s Hoping’, pictured, which sits on the promenade of the upmarket seaside town Southwold in Suffolk, Doset, famed for its celebrity visitors, has gone on the market for a record £250,000

The price is believed to be the highest ever to be asked in the UK for a hut which people are not allowed to sleep in. The hut, called 'Here's Hoping' and numbered 149, measures 10ft 6ins wide and is in a prime position on the promenade in the Edwardian town

The price is believed to be the highest ever to be asked in the UK for a hut which people are not allowed to sleep in. The hut, called ‘Here’s Hoping’ and numbered 149, measures 10ft 6ins wide and is in a prime position on the promenade in the Edwardian town

The resort has always been a popular retreat for well-heeled Londoners and celebrities including Chris Evans, Michael Palin, Stephen Fry, Rowan Atkinson and Richard Curtis. Beach huts on the south coast can be more expensive with selling prices for some in Dorset exceeding £500,000

The resort has always been a popular retreat for well-heeled Londoners and celebrities including Chris Evans, Michael Palin, Stephen Fry, Rowan Atkinson and Richard Curtis. Beach huts on the south coast can be more expensive with selling prices for some in Dorset exceeding £500,000

The buyer will still have to pay annual ground rent of £998 and will only have 18 years left of a 30 year lease, although there will be an option to renew.

They will be able to enjoy spectacular views from a veranda overlooking the beach and the North Sea, while being just a short walk from pubs, restaurants and shops.

But just 10 miles away in Lowestoft, Suffolk, there are several homes up for sale, priced between £120,000 and £140,000.

But the huts in Southwold (pictured), which have no electricity or running water, are subject to strict local by-laws which ban anyone from sleeping overnight

But the huts in Southwold (pictured), which have no electricity or running water, are subject to strict local by-laws which ban anyone from sleeping overnight

Southwold beach (pictured) has always been a popular retreat for well-heeled Londoners and celebrities including Chris Evans, Michael Palin, Stephen Fry, Rowan Atkinson and Richard Curtis

Southwold beach (pictured) has always been a popular retreat for well-heeled Londoners and celebrities including Chris Evans, Michael Palin, Stephen Fry, Rowan Atkinson and Richard Curtis

Huts in the best locations within Southwold, which is famed for its Adnams brewery, pier and lighthouse, are rarely on the market and some have been in the same family or generations

Huts in the best locations within Southwold, which is famed for its Adnams brewery, pier and lighthouse, are rarely on the market and some have been in the same family or generations

Several semi-detached homes in the area offer three bedrooms, one bathroom and two reception rooms, and is located 0.1 miles away from Lowestoft railway station.

Another property on the market is a £90,000, three-bed semi-detached bungalow at Broadlands Park and Marina in Lowestoft which has a garden, one bathroom and one living room.

The listing for the beach hut boasts that it has ‘glazed double folding doors’ and ‘a number of storage cupboards’.

The previous highest price asked for one of Southwold’s 300 beach huts was £150,000 in September 2018.

Prices have soared since then as property prices have continued to increase and the demand for staycation breaks following the Covid epidemic has boomed.

Huts in the best locations within Southwold, which is famed for its Adnams brewery, pier and lighthouse, are rarely on the market and some have been in the same family or generations.

Several semi-detached homes in the area offer three bedrooms, one bathroom and two reception rooms, and is located 0.1 miles away from Lowestoft railway station

Several semi-detached homes in the area offer three bedrooms, one bathroom and two reception rooms, and is located 0.1 miles away from Lowestoft railway station

Many are rented out for around £600 a week to visitors who flock to the town.

The latest asking price is more than double the price of a three bedroom terrace house on the market for £110,000 around ten miles away in Lowestoft, Suffolk.

More than half the properties in Southwold are second homes and the full-time population is now below 1,000, putting extra strain on local services.

Earlier this year, councillors unveiled plans to try and stem the number of second homes in the town and make more affordable housing possible for local people.

A spokesperson for estate agent Flick & Son, which is selling the hut, said: ‘I am sure it will go very quickly.

‘There is a high demand for huts and we expect there will be a bidding war in the end.’

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EU will retaliate to any unilateral action on NI protocol, Coveney warns

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British prime minister Boris Johnson has been warned of the consequences of unilateral action on the Northern Ireland protocol, including the prospect of “retaliatory” action from Europe.

On the eve of Mr Johnson’s visit to Belfast, the Government and Sinn Féin said moves to disapply parts of the protocol risked damaging east-west relations.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney spoke of a “landing zone” for negotiations and indicated that the European Union was willing to make adjustments through “partnership and dialogue” due to what he said were “legitimate concerns” within unionism about the operation of the protocol.

However, he also said that if London moved unilaterally it would make matters “significantly worse” and that “then the EU will be forced to respond to that with some form of retaliatory action”.

Mr Coveney said it was not “helpful” to expand on what form that might take, but that a response “would be very negative”.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said “there is a real and urgent obligation now” for Britain to engage with the European Commission “in a real and professional way to resolve issues that have been raised”.

Powersharing

Ahead of talks between Mr Johnson and Northern Irish political leaders aimed at restoring powersharing at Stormont, Sinn Féin’s northern leader Michelle O’Neill said unilateral action would “represent an appalling attack on the international rule of law”.

“Only through joint agreement with the EU can solutions to problems or concerns be resolved,” she said.

“I will be telling Boris Johnson that unilateral action deepens political instability and economic uncertainty and must not happen.”

Ms O’Neill is to meet Mr Martin in at Government Buildings Dublin on Monday morning ahead of her meeting with Mr Johnson.

Mr Coveney travels today to Brussels for a meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council and will later speak with EU negotiator Maros Sefcovic and British foreign secretary Liz Truss, who is expected to announce legislation on Tuesday that will unilaterally override central elements of the protocol.

Speaking to The Irish Times, Mr Coveney said Mr Sefcovic is open to making “significant progress” on the protocol.

“I believe there are solutions we could pursue and we can agree relatively quickly if there was an attitude to do so on both sides,” he said. “But we need a partner in London to do that, not a partner that is making threats of unilateral action.”

Envoy

The Minister also said he believes it is “likely” that US president Joe Biden will appoint an envoy to the North, saying the US administration is “extremely interested” in marking 25 years since the Belfast Agreement next year with “its institutions intact and functioning as they need to be”.

Mr Johnson is expected to affirm his commitment to the agreement and assert that he is not seeking to scrap the protocol. But Downing Street said ahead of his meetings with the North’s party leaders that he will not drop his government’s threat to unilaterally disapply parts of the protocol, which Mr Johnson agreed with the EU in 2019.

Downing Street said in a statement that Mr Johnson will tell party leaders that the door will always be open to “genuine dialogue” but that “there will be a necessity to act” and protect the Belfast Agreement if the EU does not change its position.

Writing in Monday’s Belfast Telegraph, Mr Johnson outlined that the protocol “has not been adapted to reflect the realities of the [Trade and Co-operation Agreement]”. He will signal that there is “without question a sensible landing spot in which everyone’s interests are protected”. However, he said that if the EU’s position does not change, “there will be a necessity to act”.


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CPEG acquires Geneva office property for €99m (CH)

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Propreal Capital Partners has completed the disposal of a prime office property in the heart of Geneva for €99m after successfully negotiating a new long-term lease with government-backed Geneva University Hospitals. The buyer is Caisse de Prévoyance de l’Etat de Genève (CPEG), the State of Geneva’s Pension Fund. The proceeds of the deal raise Propreal’s war chest to €300m of available capital to place in pan-European assets.

 

The 7,070m² office space was previously occupied by financial group BNP Paribas which terminated its contract prior to the lease break in November 2026. Located on Boulevard de la Tour 8, the building forms part of a larger condominium (propriété par étages, or PPE), which also includes apartments from the sixth to the ninth floors and was wholly owned by CPEG.

 

Yves de Kerdanet, Founder and CEO Propreal Capital Partners said: “Our successful restructuring of the existing lease with BNP Paribas brought a government-backed tenant on board for a 20-year term in an office market that is still feeling the after-effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. This paved the way for a deal with CPEG to acquire the property and terminate the co-ownership structure. Altogether this transaction has helped to unlock substantial investment value.”

 

The office property also comprises 252m² of storage area and 48 parking spaces. The new tenant will relocate parts of its administrative facilities to the building following refurbishment works due to be completed in the course of 2022.

 

Marcus Siggelow, Head of Asset Management at Propreal Capital Partners said: We had an opportunity to restructure the existing lease and negotiate a new government-backed lease for a 20-year term with the Geneva University Hospitals. This value-enhancing leasing agreement illustrates the quality of the location and the building and we’re now on the lookout for further opportunities to expand our portfolio across pan-European markets. The funds generated from this disposal will enable us to place more capital in other prime pan-European assets.”

 

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